Traveler’s Diarrhea

How to Say It: Traveler’s die-ah-ree-ah


Traveler's diarrhea is diarrhea in people who travel to other nations. It often happens in developing countries.


The main cause of this problem is ingesting food or water that is contaminated with:

  • Bacteria, such as escherichia coli (E. coli), campylobacter, salmonella, and shingella
  • Viruses, such as rotavirus and norovirus
  • Parasites, such as protozoa and giardia

Virus Attacking Cell

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Risk Factors

This problem is more common in people who visit developing countries that lack safe water supplies and sanitation. Other things that may raise the risk are:

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Crohn's Disease
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Problems may be:

  • Increased frequency and volume of stool
  • Frequent loose stools—4 to 5 watery bowel movements a day
  • Belly cramping
  • Bloating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever


You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This is enough to make the diagnosis.


Most people get better on their own in 3 to 5 days without treatment. Symptoms can be managed with:

Dietary Changes

Drinking plenty of clear fluids or an oral hydration solution can help prevent dehydration. This will replace the fluids lost in the diarrhea. Foods should be slowly reintroduced.


Antibiotics may be given to reduce how long symptoms last. They are only helpful for treating infections caused by bacteria.

Antidiarrheal medicine may also be given. Examples are loperamide and bismuth subsalicylate.


To lower the risk of this health problem when traveling:

  • Do not eat foods from street vendors or unsanitary eating establishments.
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked meat or seafood.
  • Eat foods that are fully cooked and served hot.
  • Do not eat salads or unpeeled fruits. Have only fruits and vegetables can be peeled, such as bananas or oranges.
  • Do not drink tap water or use ice cubes. Do not use the water for toothbrushing.
  • Drink only bottled water with a sealed cap or local water that has been boiled for 10 minutes or treated with iodine or chlorine.
  • Sealed bottled carbonated beverages, steaming hot tea or coffee, wine, and beer are all okay to drink.


American Gastroenterological Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Be Food Safe—Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education


Acute diarrhea in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed September 16, 2021.
Acute diarrhea in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed September 16, 2021.
Travelers' diarrhea. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Accessed September 16, 2021.
Traveler's diarrhea. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed September 16, 2021.
Traveler’s diarrhea. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: Accessed September 16, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mary-Beth Seymour, RN
Last Updated: 9/16/2021

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